"A Clear Future for our River"

Harriet Alvis

NEW 2017 Riverfly training sessions

Thanks to funding from Big Lottery Fund‘s Awards for All programme, BART are pleased to announce that we will be running 4 new Riverfly Partnership training sessions. These one day sessions will provide participants with the skills needed to monitor aquatic invertebrates on a monthly basis as indicators of water quality. More information available here: http://www.bristolavonriverstrust.org/what-we-do/riverfly_monitoring/

All sessions are free, will run from 10am-4pm and will be filled up on a first come, first served basis.

- Lacock, Wiltshire: 28th April
- Batheaston, Bath: 11th May
- Freshford, Somerset: 20th May
- Chew Magna, Somerset: 25th May

If you are interested in attending a session, please email harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org

 

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Celebrating #WorldWetlandsDay for the eel

This #WorldWetlandsDay, some of the BART Team will be spending the day at Steart Marshes in Somerset continuing a vitally important project to monitor population levels of the European eel in this important wetland. This 2 week project, led by Westcountry Rivers Trust and funded by the Environment Agency, will assess how the eel use the Steart as important feeding zones, life habitats or as part of their migratory route.

Opened in 2014, Steart Marshes is managed by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust and the Environment Agency and has been labelled as ‘a wild, wetland landscape for the future that helps people and wildlife adapt to climate change.’ Rising sea levels are predicted to completely flood thousands of hectares of saltmarsh and mudflats over the next 50 years. At some places, such as Steart Marshes, it is possible to realign the coastline, allowing vital new saltmarsh to form. As with all wetlands, the area provides habitat for a rich mix of wetland wildlife including otters, egrets, owls waders and wildfowl and its creeks are a nursery for the fry of important fish stocks. Not only this, but the habitat is a vital carbon storage area, absorbing tonnes of climate-polluting carbon as it matures.

We will update on the success of the project as it unfolds but we are pleased to have found the first evidence of eels using 2 different habitats within the site so far. We were joined in these findings by a familiar face from TV – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who came to learn more about Westcountry Rivers Trusts and BART’s conservation and research efforts. We look forward to seeing the plight of the eel on our screens in 2018 as part of Hugh’s new series exploring the Westcountry!

 

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Setting fyke nets in the managed intertidal habitat

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BART Project Officer Harriet meets Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

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We got one! Hugh and Scott from Westcountry Rivers Trust admire a yellow eel found at Steart.

Citizen Science Water Quality Monitoring Project

Thanks to funding from the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership, BART will be working with 8 Riverfly monitors, 5 community groups, 5 schools and 5 farmers to monitor chemical water quality in their local rivers throughout the catchment over the next year.

This monitoring is testing for phosphates and nitrates with the global research project Freshwater Watch. Although naturally occurring in our rivers, concentrations of these elements can be increased by both agricultural and urban run-off and can lead to harmful algal blooms which strip waterbodies of oxygen and result in fish kills. Some of you may already have conducted Freshwater Watch monitoring as part of the hugely successful WaterBlitz 2016 event but this is a further opportunity for people to monitor phosphates, nitrates and turbidity in their local river. This biological and chemical monitoring will provide invaluable data to pick up local issues and aid us in directing future conservation work to improve our rivers.

 

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The project is already proving very popular! Two pupils from Sherston School show their findings from the Sherston Avon.

 

 

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BA Catchment Partnership

 

Bristol Frome Restored Project

This project is funded by the Environment Agency as a continuation of the Bristol Frome Pollution Project completed last year on behalf of the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership. The aim is to maintain focus on improvements within the Bristol Frome and it’s tributaries which will lead to improved ecological status.

This project will focus on two main areas:

Farm improvements

  • Farm advisory visits
  • Follow up visits to previously visited farms
  • An inventory of future capital farm improvements

In-stream habitat improvements

  • In stream habitat improvements by BART with local community assistance
  • An investigation into improving the upper reaches of the river for the benefit of wild brown trout.
  • An investigation of structures having an impounding effect on the river and those that are barriers to fish migration.

In-stream habitat works will take place from 20th-24th February and the 27th Feb-3rd March. If you are interested in volunteering, please get in touch with our Project Officer at harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org

 

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NEW PROJECT!: Somerset Frome Diffuse Pollution Pathways

BA Catchment Partnership

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The Somerset Frome Diffuse Pollution Pathways project will use a risk grading approach to develop sediment pathway maps for the upper Somerset Frome (South of the town of Frome). To date, statutory monitoring programmes and local knowledge has been used to identify the main pressures and likely reasons for failure to meet water quality standards. However, this existing data can often be insufficient for providing evidence for effectively prioritising and targeting works which will reduce sediment load and nutrients entering the watercourse.

Thanks to funding from the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership, the project will involve a series of wet weather walkovers to identify pollution pathways using the Source Pathway Receptor Principle. These pathways can be identified by colour changes from ditch, road or tributary inputs into main streams or simply the colouration of the input itself if the main stream is already coloured.

Data collected at all sites will include GPS coordinates and photographs and where possible pollution events will be traced to source.   The walkover survey findings will be graded according to their severity and risk to sediment entering into a watercourse.

Useful data sets including LIDAR images and the location data collected will be used to create maps of the area. The completed risk maps will highlight areas within the project area where it is likely that different cropping, better soil management or physical interventions would have the greatest impact of reducing soil and nutrients entering the river.

Stakeholder engagement will be an important part in developing solutions identified by this project.  BART will engage with the general public, landowners, farmers and local businesses to increase awareness of the issues surrounding erosion risk and diffuse pollution as groundwork for future interventions.

 

What can you do to help?

We can’t be everywhere in the catchment at once but we are keen to get as much data as possible to build up knowledge for future improvements. If you are passing the area please help us by:
1. Reporting areas where sediment is entering the river. This may be from streams, tributaries or ditches and is characterised by a marked change in the water colour.

2. Reporting areas where ditches are overflowing or roads are turning into virtual streams whenever it rains and adding pollutants into the river

Please email Jess Grant at BART (Jess@bristolavonriverstrust.org) with the following information:

• Date
• Name and contact number/email address
• Grid ref or best possible location description.
• Weather conditions leading up to the event.
• Photo if possible
• Description of what was seen.

 

Thank you from BART!